Judge Roy Moore, Mary and Joseph, and Child Marriage
On November 9th the Washington Post reported that a “woman says [Judge] Roy Moore initiated [a] sexual encounter when she was 14, he was 32.” You can read the full details of the story here in which four women have said he sexually abused them.
I have somewhat of a history with Judge Roy Moore. I’ve never met him before but he was a hero in the conservative circles I grew up in for his controversial, political-religious stances such as refusing to move the 10 Commandments from government property.
Moore was also the supposed author of the poem “America The Beautiful” which was one of the first poems I ever memorized as a child and certainly the longest. I remember memorizing the poem to recite at a girls dressup tea-party as a child.
The poem starts like this (emphasis mine):
“America the Beautiful, or so you used to be,
Land of the Pilgrims’ pride, I’m glad they’re not here to see,
Babies piled in dumpsters, abortion on demand,
Oh, sweet land of liberty, your house is on the sand.
Your children wander aimlessly poisoned by cocaine,
Choosing to indulge their lusts, when God has said abstain.
From sea to shining sea this Nation has turned away,
From the teaching of God’s Law, and a need to always pray.
So many worldly pastors telling lies about our Rock,
Saying God is going broke so they can fleece the flock.
We’ve kept God in our temples, how foolish we have grown,
When all the earth is but His footstool, and Heaven is His throne.
We’ve voted in governments that are rotting to the core,
Appointing Godless judges who throw reason out the door…”
Not only am I disturbed by the allegations made against Moore (I personally believe and stand with the victims) but I am distraught by the defenses of him. In particular, Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler told The Washington Examiner in defense of Moore:
“Take Joseph and Mary. Mary was a teenager and Joseph was an adult carpenter. They became parents of Jesus,” Alabama State Auditor Jim Ziegler told The Washington Examiner. “There’s just nothing immoral or illegal here. Maybe just a little bit unusual.”
This is appalling on every level. Not only does the Bible not give Mary’s age, and most Christians believe Jesus was conceived without sex, but you can’t take an ancient practice like child marriage and use this to justify modern abuse.
It is no wonder that child marriage is still legal in all 50 US states when warped thinking like this abounds. In many cases all that is needed for a child, even as young as 11, to be married to an adult is for the parents of the child to give their consent and for a judge to also consent which is not out of the ordinary when considering that between 2000 and 2015, there were at least 207,468 child marriages in the US.
Sadly it is often religious justification that finds it somehow ok to marry a child to an adult and even more bizarre when that same child may not be old enough to file for divorce. Ziegler has not, to my knowledge, called for child marriage but I would be remiss not to connect this dangerous type of thinking with our child marriage crisis.
Let me be clear. Non-consensual sexual interaction is abuse. Sexual interaction between an adult and a minor is abuse. Sexual abuse allegations are rarely deemed unfounded (1). Using God to justify any form of abuse, but especially child abuse, is pure evil.
Notes and Sources:
(1) Only 2%-10% of sexual assault accusations are deemed unfounded (unfounded does not necessarily mean untrue). Statistics provided by: Uniform Crime Report, United States Department of Justice and Council on Domestic Violence and Victim Assistance
(2) Unchained At Last: Laws To End Child Marriage
(3) Unchained At Last, statistics stated to be based on population figures according to US Census.